Chaga Mushroom

 

Chaga (Inonotus obliquus) Growing from an old wound in a Birch tree

Chaga Mushroom
(Inonotus obliquus)

Where does it come from?
Chaga is a mushroom that mostly grows with the Birch tree, all through the boreal regions of our planet.  It has a symbiotic relationship with Birch, exchanging with living trees in a way that benefits both organisms, rather than a recycler/parasitic relationship, eating a dying or dead trees.  The health of the tree is preserved by the chagas protective attributes and its ability to pull nutrients our of the soil that roots are unable to get at. This all  in exchange for a steady stream of sugars to grow itself on.  Chaga does not make a fruiting body like other mushrooms, rather it forms a sclerotia, which is a large growth with an outer black skin that protrudes from the tree. These sclerotias are slow growing, taking many years to form.  They are typically found where the bark has been compromised or the tree has been wounded.  It is in these growths that we find the medicine this wonderful mushroom has to offer.
Medicinal Uses
Like other medicinal mushrooms, Chaga is a rich source of Beta-Glucans.  Beta-Glucans have a modulating effect on the immune system, helping in both under active and over active systems.  This gives the body a huge advantage when dealing with pathogens and pollutants, as it becomes more adaptable to its environment.  Chaga also has  a number of other gifts that can assist us in healing.  It concentrates betulinic acid from the birch trees.  Betulinic acid is a triterpene that has strong anti-oxidant and anti-tumor effects in the body.  Chaga  generates Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) a potent free-radical scavenger that concentrates in major organs and cells to prevent oxidative damage.  In fact, according to the ORAC scale, Chaga may be the most potent anti-oxidant we have ever found, higher than green tea, chocolate, or any of the berries. The outer black surface of Chaga also has been shown to have potent anti-viral properties, and is currently being used with some success for HIV patients.  It is also helpful in soothing inflamed mucous membranes, particularly those of the throat and intestinal tract when drank as a tea.  All in all, Chaga ranks up there with the top medicinal substances on the planet, and yet it is one of the safest.  Acting as a tonic on the body, Chaga can be taken daily with benefits that increase the longer it is used.  Making Chaga a regular part of your lifestyle can help increase the ability to adapt to that which life throws at you.

Brewing Chaga Tea:
Bring water to a boil, turn heat down and add chaga.
Lightly simmer for 20 minutes to 5 hours, stirring occasionally.
Strain off liquid and serve.
The grounds can be re-brewed or stored in the fridge to brew again later. Up to 20% of its bio-active compounds are released with each brew, so it is a good idea to brew it at east 3-4 times.  As there are anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties to it, often it will keep in a pot on the stove for a good week or more with out going bad.  During the winter months, our family just has a pot going most of the time, adding water as needed.
Taste of the tea
The flavour has been compared to that of a sweet mild coffee with hints of vanilla.  It is very tasty and many start to crave the taste after awhile.  There can be a small amount of bitter to the tea, coming from the anti-viral compounds in the outer black skin, which usually dissipates after the first brew.

Chaga Steam Extracted Powder:

Prepared in a way that makes the Chaga more bio-available. It can be added to food such as oatmeal, hot tea, elixirs, smoothies or soups. The powdered extract also makes an instant tea when added to hot water. It does form some sediment however, which can be filtered out, consumed or re-brewed for a second batch of tea. Any of the Harmonic Arts Mushroom powders can be used in tthese ways.

8 responses to “Chaga Mushroom

  1. liesje September 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Love it , love it. i brew it and then add vanilla almond milk and it tastes like hot chocolate my kids love it as well.Thanks for introducing this to me in nanaimo.Will make this a staple in my household.

  2. mei mei October 25, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    i found those chaga on dead birch tree on the ground. can i use them for making tea? thanks and have a blessed day!

    • Yarrow October 30, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

      If the tree is fresh it should be fine. If its old then look to see if there is any decay (secondary De-composition), and don’t use those parts.

  3. Brett April 11, 2013 at 4:52 am #

    Have you monitored the health of the tree after removal? What are the concerns for individuals harvesting on their own? I’d hate to kill a tree by opening an old wound,

    • Yarrow September 23, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

      Hi Brett,
      Thanks for your comment. I understand your concern as the forrest and trees are also very important to me as well. Chaga grows only on trees that need its help, ie the ones that are old or dying or have lost a limb. It helps to heal and keep these trees alive. So when harvesting it if you are carful, you are only taking to Scab so to speak from its wound. I have monitored some trees after they have been harvested and seen that the Chaga does re-grow back to a degree, though slowly. Also that the trees though they look damaged (missing a section), do not die from harvesting it. As these are the weaker trees, without the Chaga they would be gone anyways, so provided it is not over harvested or done in a wreckless manor I see it as fine.
      Much of the Chaga that we get is from harvesters that have licences on wood lots as well, where they go in and harvest the Chaga before the whole forrest is cut for wood. Though it is a shame that the trees are being cut it is better to make use of the medicine first.
      This is an ongoing issue, and we will see how our forests do with it now that Chaga has become popular. I hope that the harvesting practices remain ethical, though it is hard to control, especially those that are keen and excited to go out and get some, with out much understanding of how to do it in a way that is not harming the trees. I find the best way is with a long handles chisel and a small hatchet. Gently going around the Chaga using the chisel with the hammer side of the hatchet, then popping it out.
      Thanks for your concern and awareness around this issue. It may become a problem in the future, so awareness does need to be spread about it. We also carry a Chaga steam extract that is mostly from grown chaga and only partially from wild. http://harmonicarts.ca/store/product/chaga-powder-extract-organic/
      Warm regards,
      Yarrow

  4. Patrick Ryan April 26, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    I appreciate my daughter sending me a 75g bag of Chaga tea. I consumed it over a month period and enjoyed the effects of it in several ways. After a couple of days I felt so good especially in the digesting my food and it seemed to me to be a great stress reliever. I intend to order some more, directly from the company. I feel as I cannot do without it. Thanks to our daughter and to you mr. Wolf.
    Patrick,
    Musquoodoboit Valley Nova Scotia.

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